From Baku to Moscow

I am so thrilled and thankful to have been named a recipient of the University of Iowa’s  T. Anne Cleary International Dissertation Research Fellowship! Many thanks to the faculty and staff at the University of Iowa who have supported me with this project: Benjamin Coelho, Christine Getz, David Gier, David Gompper, Trevor Harvey, Courtney Miller, David Puderbaugh, Karen Wachsmuth, and most importantly, Nicole Esposito. An additional thanks to my amazing husband, Ghyas Zeidieh, for his support and encouragement.

In December 2017, I will travel to MOSCOW, Russia! I am even more excited because I have never had the opportunity to visit the country of my conception! I will conduct my studies at the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory in addition to the Russian State and the Taneyev Research Music Libraries. I will also have the chance to travel to the Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory. Finally, I will end my trip in Baku, Azerbaijan, the land of my father’s heritage.

Thanks to the many other wonderful opportunities available to me at Iowa, including the GPSG and GSS Research Travel Awards, I was able to complete my preliminary research in Baku, Azerbaijan (Dec. 2015-Jan. 2016) in preparation for the completion of my D.M.A. doctoral essay. After my trip and many hours spent analyzing my materials, I realized I would not be able to finish my work without traveling to Moscow, the former Soviet Union’s artistic hub.

As an undergraduate student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I was a two-time recipient of a Critical Language Scholarship, which gave me the opportunity to study mugham (Azerbaijani folk music) at the National Folk Conservatory in Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani language at the Azerbaijan University of Languages. These trips allowed me to improve my language skills and meet many Azerbaijani academics and musicians. (Special thanks to my mother, Angela Haliburda, for her many hours of application essay proof-reading!) Upon returning, I incorporated music of the Caucasus into my recitals and concerts, and shared mugham with my professors, colleagues, and audience members. It was after my trip to Azerbaijan in 2010 that I was also awarded the Azerbaijan Society of America’s 2011 Spring Semester Scholarship Program.


Critical Language Scholarship 2011 Recipients and Azerbaijani Staff


I am researching the original manuscripts and scores composed for flute and piano by three of the most famous classical Azerbaijani composers: Fikret Amirov, Tofiq Bakihanov, and Arif Melikov. These composers are recipients of People’s awards and are also National Artists of the USSR and Azerbaijan, the highest achievement for any artist. Flute was not a popular instrument in Azerbaijan during the composers’ glory days, and to have each composer write a substantial work for the instrument is very special. Unfortunately, the pieces are not frequently performed by the newer generations of international flutists because the scores and editions of these composers’ music are not readily available. Fikret Amirov has passed away, and Tofiq Bakihanov and Arif Melikov are well into their 80s. Given the age of these composers, it is critical to be able to work with them now before their contributions are lost. (After the Soviet Union collapsed, many publishing houses in Azerbaijan closed due to the high printing costs and low demand for music. The state libraries underwent a difficult transition, resulting in many works being lost and unprinted, such as the three I am researching. All three composers spent a significant amount of their lives in Moscow, where their music and many other vital research tools are still housed.)

With composer Tofiq Bakihanov in his home
With composer Arif Melikov in his office, Baku Academy of Music 

My preliminary research trip to Azerbaijan in December 2015 allowed me to make initial contact with Arif Melikov and Tofiq Bakihanov, perform for them, and conduct interviews. I also began style and ornamentation studies of Azerbaijani classical music with flute Professor Muzaffar Aghamalizade, of the National Conservatory. Furthermore, I translated historical and biographical texts from the conservatory’s library from Russian and Azerbaijani to English. (Special thanks to my father, Zikret Hasan, for all his Russian translation assistance!)

With Flute Professor, Muzaffar Aghamalizade


Next stop-Moscow, Russia.

Счастли́вого пути́ 🙂

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